More than 1,000 children in emergency homeless accommodation in Ireland
More than 1,000 children are now homeless in Ireland with their families. Focus Ireland says these new statistics are significant and highlight failure of Government strategies to provide security for families who are renting their homes.
With increasing numbers of families becoming homeless, the number of children who are homeless across the country has for the first time exceeded the symbolic level of 1,000, Focus Ireland stated today.
Last month saw the largest ever increase in family homelessness, which will see the number of children experiencing homelessness with their families go above 1,000 nationally. The figures are due to be presented to the Cabinet sub-committee next week and will be published shortly after.
‘Until the last three years, family homelessness was relatively limited in Ireland and was mostly associated with a range of other complex social problems. In the last three years, we have seen the problem escalate and start to impact on families whose primary problem is that they simply cannot afford to pay the escalating rents.
For a significant number of these families, the key factor triggering homelessness is the failure of the Department of Social Protection to increase Rent Supplement in line with rising rents. This has left families unable to afford the rents which landlords now demand. The mass eviction and homelessness of large numbers of workless families is the direct and inevitable consequence of the Department of Social Protections policy.
The cost to the taxpayer of having so many families living in B&Bs and hotel rooms is enormous, every 50 families who are homeless costs €3,000,000 per annum to house. But the social cost to the families and to the future of these children is incalculable.
Director of Advocacy with Focus Ireland Mike Allen said: “The system is struggling even to provide families a bed for the night, and the conditions they are offered are often very bleak. Often there are no cooking facilities and they are very far away from their schools.
These conditions would be bad enough if they were only for a night or two but, with very little opportunity to move out of homelessness, families can be stuck in these circumstances for months or years.
Focus Ireland strongly supports the Government’s commitment to deliver more social housing, but even if that strategy is delivered in full, we will not see the benefits for two to three years. We need a Government strategy to reduce the rate at which families are becoming homeless and to provide adequate emergency accommodation for those who do.
We strongly welcome recent proposals to put pressure on banks so that owner-occupiers who are in mortgage arrears have a greater chance of holding on to their homes, but we have to ask why a similar degree of urgency is not being shown for families who rent their homes. All children have a right to a secure home, whether their parents have a mortgage or whether they are renting. The fact that we have now reached the appalling milestone of 1,000 homeless children must finally trigger an urgent and effective Government response.
Contact Mike Allen 087 2305869